I am hosting an event called “Wall of Silence: Human Rights in Balochistan“, that will be taking place in Committee Room 2 on 19 July 2017 18:30 – 20:00. Human Rights Watch described the violations in Balochistan as reaching ‘epidemic proportions’ Despite being Pakistan’s largest province and rich in resources, Balochistan is one of its least developed.
There are many people in this world who are marginalised by the nation they live within. Decisions are made without local consultation, families are cleared from their homes and local people are by-passed for jobs. A sense of injustice leads to protest and that often threatens powerful vested interests. The state can respond with repression, rather than dialogue and democratic reform. Repression can lead to some protests turning violent and as a result, laws become more draconian. This can create a cycle of violence that becomes entrenched.
Defending human rights and giving a voice to those at the sharp end of repression and violence is one step towards a democratic solution to situations like Balochistan. It requires bravery to give voice to complaints about what the military is doing or to attempt peaceful protest. Blanket censorship of criticism of the army’s actions makes the situation worse, as it feeds a culture of immunity to prosecution by those in the armed forces.
As a green, I condemn violence by those on both sides of any dispute. In a difficult and complicated situation like Balochistan, you have to do your best to promote dialogue and that starts by giving a voice to the voiceless. Unless people have the opportunity to speak up, vent grievances and explain their point of view, then nothing changes.